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Outside counsel budget variance year to year

The Arizona Attorney published a 2003 roundtable discussion among six senior corporate lawyers in Arizona (40 AZ Attorney 12 (Nov. 2003)). One lawyer at the round-tabler was the General Counsel of Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, Patricia Cooper, who oversees its two lawyers and one paralegal.

Cooper said that the outside counsel spending “may be anything from [$750,000] one year to maybe $3 million another year.” I am surprised at a swing of four to one. In my consulting experience, law departments have a reasonably stable expenditure level for outside counsel – barring the lightning bolts of a major acquisition or life-threatening litigation.